Hamady Diop, Clemson’s left-footed center back, was selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft on Wednesday by Charlotte FC, which traded $400,000 in total GAM over two years and its No. 20 pick in the 2023 SuperDraft to St. Louis City SC for the pick.
“It’s a dream come true — I didn’t expect this,” said Diop.
Born in Dakar, Senegal, Diop attended Montverde Academy in Florida before arriving at Clemson in January 2020. As a sophomore, Diop played all 90 minutes in the College Cup final against Washington in 2021, which the Tigers won 2-0.
In his last college game, Diop scored the lone goal for Clemson in its 2-1 loss to UCLA in the second round of the 2022 NCAA tournament.
It was the second straight year Charlotte FC selected the first player in the MLS SuperDraft. Last year, it picked Maryland midfielder Ben Bender, who made 28 appearances (19 starts) in his rookie year under Coach Christian Lattanzio.
“I followed [Charlotte] pretty closely, honestly,” said Diop. “I have some friends who play there — I’m just looking forward to competing there every day.”
Diop is the second Clemson player picked first in MLS draft history after Robbie Robinson, who in 2020 was chosen by Inter Miami.
Montverde Academy, a private school known for its sports programs, has provided opportunities for many foreign players. Brazilian Andre Shinyashiki was the 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year with Colorado. Another Senegalese defender, Mamadou Fall, immediately broke into the LAFC lineup in 2021 and is now on loan at Spanish club Villarreal.
Soccer America spoke with Diop shortly after he got picked:
SOCCER AMERICA: Congratulations on being the No. 1 pick — what is going through your head right now?
HAMADY DIOP: A mix of emotions for sure. Before I was nervous, but then I heard it was Charlotte, a team I know, some players I know are already there and I’ve done some interviews with them already, so I’m just so happy.
SA: What will you miss most about college soccer?
HAMADY DIOP: My mom would probably say school, but definitely not school. But my teammates and coaches, for sure. They give me so much, opportunity, training, they make me better — my friends on my team are friends for life. We have a group chat and a bunch of them texted me when I got picked.
SA: Your favorite memory from college soccer?
HAMADY DIOP: Definitely winning the national championship last year. There is nothing else like it.
SA: What are you most looking forward to about being a professional?
HAMADY DIOP: Just playing at the next level. Charlotte is a team that wants to win, with a good coach and a lot of support. I’m just excited to compete there every day.